John Brokett of Caswell - The Broket Archive

John Brokett of Wheathampstead and Caswell Esq
bap 1583 d 1658/9

Imagine growing up in the fine Elizabethan manor house of Mackery End, Wheathampstead, and being 16 or 17 when your father was knighted as the third Sir John Brokett. Then aged 20/21 imagine joining your father the Commander of the Fort of Duncannon in Ireland. Such were John’s early days. Most of his adult life thereafter he was called John Brokett Esquire of Mackery End or of Wheathampstead. Mackery End was in Wheathampstead and Caswell abutted on Mackery End. We mainly identify him by his last home Caswell, to distinguish him from his father Sir John of Mackery End and his older second cousin John of Wheathampstead Esq.

Contents of this page:

  1. Ireland
  2. Wives and children
  3. Other records
  4. Will

Aged 20/21 John was implicated with his father in allegations of counterfeiting silver in Ireland. The dynasty had already begun to decline in influence since Sir John II’s death 1598, and John III’s line further suffered from the events in Ireland. Nonetheless Mackery End was not sold till 1628 and in 1634 John of Caswell was the subject of a Heralds’ Visitation. But towards the end of his life, John apparently became less and less well off. He sold his interest in various Wheathampstead lands and spent his latter years at Caswell, a small farm,1 which he said he had difficulty retaining.

1. Ireland

In March 1603 20 year-old Lieutenant John Brockett was called as a witness at the inquiry into the alledged counterfeiting of coins in Duncannon Fort, Ireland. He was implicated, but not his younger brother Thomas.2

2. Wives and children

John married 1st Jane ‘dau and coheir of Edward LACON of Willy, Co Hereford’.3 The 1860 Gateshead Pedigree gave her name as Joan, daughter and heir of Edmond LACON of Wilwyn [Herts], probably correctly with respect to Wilwyn, at least—there is no place Willy in Herefordshire. Children:

  1. John, bap 29 Jul 1612 Wheathampstead “John Son of Mr John Broket of Mackerie End”.4 John is the only known Gentleman John Brokett who could have married Mary Blackwell in Sandridge 1635.
  2. Lacon. Married 1634 Beniamin HARE St Giles in the Fields, London.5

“Jane Wife of John Brocket of Mackerells End Esqr.” was buried in St Helen’s Wheathampstead 20 Feb 1621.6 John married 2nd Elizabeth d/o Edmond MORDAUNT of Oakley, Bedfordshire,7 in Oakley 8 Jul 1624.8 Children:

  1. Edmond, bap 23 Jun 1625 Wheathampstead “Edmond Son of John Brokett of Makrills End”.9 His mother Elizabeth’s father was an Edmond. The 1634 Visitation of Herts and the 1860 Gateshead Pedigree mistakenly named him Edward. In all other records found he was clearly called Edmond, e.g. the 1650 Chancery suit, Edmond’s brother John’s Will and indeed Edmond’s own Will, or else Edmund, e.g. in the Merchant Taylors’ Company record of Edmond being presented 4 Apr 1646 and freed 4 May 1653, aged 28, by master Thomas Pendleton.10 The only other known contemporary Edmund was the son of Edmund, Vicar of Luton, bap 1605—too early to have been an apprentice 1646-53.
  2. Elizabeth, bap 28 Jun 1626 Wheathampstead. “Elizabeath da. of John Brokett of Makrillsend”.11 She was mentioned in brother John’s Will in 1646.

3. Other records

3.1. Virginia

Some time between 1609 and 1613—Sir Thomas Smyth’s treasurership—John’s father invested by bill of adventure in the Virginia Company.12 His father died in Sep 1613, so the investment would have passed to son John by then. At some point the investment materialised into 200 acres on the Elizabeth River in Norfolk VA, probably used for growing tobacco. How long John kept the land and its proceeds is unknown but in 1639 it was assigned to Henry Watson by Francis Roulston, alias Willcox, to whom John had previously assigned it.13

John’s brother Thomas may well have been the Thomas Brockett, Gentleman, recorded in 1623-4 as an Adventurer of the Virginia Company.14 Whether or not he went there is unknown.

3.2. Wheathampstead

During his life John obtained and released various lands in and around Wheathampstead:

  1. On 28 Oct 1609 Isabel Brokett, daughter of Edward Brokett of Wheathampstead, deceased, leased the Manor of Wheathampstead with Harpenden to John Brokett of Mackery End, Esq, son and heir of Sir John Brokett of Mackery End for 99 years.15
  2. On 12 Jun 1617 John Brokett of Mackery End, Esq surrendered … to John Cutt of Topstreete.16
  3. “John Brokett of Mackarye Ende in the parishe of Whethampsteed Esquier and Jane his wief” sold 4 parcels of land in Harpenden to Edward Clarke of Cooters End, Harpenden, yeoman on 20 Feb1617/8.17 John signed his first name flambuoyantly:18John Brokett's signature 1618His same signature survives from 1623 as the first of 5 witnesses to a conveyance of land in Blunham, Bedfordshire:19John Brokett's signature 1623This was the conveyance of the farmhouse at Southfields in Blunham from Richard Guilman, son and heir of Richard Guilman, Gent, deceased and Ann his wife, daughter of Robert Spencer of St Albans, deceased, to Humphrey Lowe, Gent, Robert Halfpenny and Edward Southey of Staple Inn. The other witnesses were John Ellis, John Burgess, James Ellis and Edward Barratt.
  4. 1628: “John Brockett of Mackries end Esqr” was due £4 16s on £12 worth of land in the Lay Subsidy of July this year.20
  5. Mackary End House Wheathampstead, or Mackerells End, had been the home of his father and grandfather and himself until he was 45,21 when John is said to have conveyed the manor to Thomas Levett the day after Ascension Day in the 4th year of the reign of Charles I—May 1628.22 According to the document it was John’s younger brother Thomas who did so, but why this might have been is unclear—perhaps “Thomas” was a scribal dittography following “Thomas Levett”:23+Read more

    CP25/2/428 sale of Mackery manor End 1628 names

    The £900 sterling consideration suggests that this fine completed an actual financial transaction. Thomas Levett married John and Thomas’s older sister Margaret around the time of this sale; her previous husband had died 1 Aug 1625. Was Mackary End part of the marriage agreement? Perhaps Margaret had a part interest in the House in her own right, and perhaps lived on there with Levett. In any event Mackery End passed out of Broket ownership with Margaret and her brothers, and who took it over from Levett is not yet known. He is not known to have had children.

  6. John and his son John conveyed Saunceys to James Ellis in 1638.24
  7. John spent the last part of his life at Caswell House.25 In the dispute with Samuel Baker it is referred to as: ‘one Messuage called Casswell house with thappertenances and seuerall pieces or parcells of land conteining by estimation two hundred acres of land arable meadow and pasture set lyeing and being in the parishes of Harpeden Kympton and Whethamstead in the said Countye of Hertford’.
  8. Fireplace graffiti (notes to follow)

3.3. Brocket v Cutts 1650

This was a dispute over some money John had borrowed against some of his property in Wheathampstead. Because of it he was twice briefly imprisoned. His son Edmond was involved. Two documents have been found: John’s Bill of Complaint and William Cutts’ Answer.26

The main details:27   Read more

3.4. Brocket v Baker 1652

This was an involved dispute over John’s property in ‘Casswell’ in the 1650s. Three documents have been found but no judgment as yet:28

  1. JB snr’s Bill of Complaint of 9 Feb 165229
  2. SB jnr’s Bill of Complaint of 2 Dec 1652, a new suit30
  3. JB snr’s Plea & Demurrer of 13 Feb 1653 to no.231

Summary and analysis

Read more

Chronology of the alledged events in the dispute

Read more

4. John’s last Will and testament 1655/6

1. In the name of God Amen the seaventh day of March
2. in the yeare of our Lord God One thowsand six hundred fifty ‘and’ five
3. I John Brockett of Whethamsted in the County of Hartford Esqr.   Read more

Too much can be read into Wills, but compared to other Esquires’ Wills from this century, indeed Gentlemen’s and even many Yeomen’s, this one is short and meagre. A token bequest for the eldest son was not so unusual, if property had already been passed on, but is less usual for both sons, and to allow 1 year for such small amounts to be raised from the estate is odd. It could imply that John had little to pass on and had fallen on hard times, and/or that there was some breach between father and sons. Neither daughter was mentioned.

The witness George Brokett was a son of the other John Brockett of Wheathampstead Esq. George was baptised in Wheathampstead 1624 and buried in Watford 1676. George’s brother Thomas was Executor of the Will of Edmond Brockett, with little doubt John of Caswell’s second son.

Page Last Updated: May 29, 2021


For full bibliographical details please see the sections Publications or Glossary.


[1] Now called Castle Farm: (accessed 24 Oct 2017).

[2] Calendar of State Papers for Ireland p 578-81.

[3] Visitation of Herts 1634—Metcalfe 1886.

[4] Parish Register, as recorded by Gough in the Bodleian Manuscript Gough Herts.4, p 3

[5] Boyd's Marriage Index

[6] Parish Register, as recorded by Gough in the Bodleian Manuscript Gough Herts. 4, p 11 (fol. 140r).

[7] Visitation of Herts 1634

[8] IGI

[9] Parish Register, as recorded by Gough in the Bodleian Manuscript Gough Herts.4, p 4

[10] City of London Guildhall Library’s index of the Merchant Taylors’ Company freemen 1530-1928; Presentment Books and Index to Freeman, Guildhall Library microfilms 352:57 and 324, consulted 2001.

[11] Parish Register, as recorded by Gough in the Bodleian Manuscript Gough Herts.4, p 4

[12] (accessed 5 Apr 2018). A search through Kingsbury's Introduction (1905) didn't reveal the bill of adventure.

[13] Nugent 1934- vol 1 p 110; Virginia State Land Office Patents No. 1, 1623-1643 (v.1 & 2), p. 653 (Reel 1).

[14] Kinsbury 1906- vol 4 p 366.

[15] HALS DE/Cm/37752.

[16] HALS DE/Cm/37763.

[17] HALS DE/Cm/37741.

[18] Reproduced with kind permission from Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies.

[19] Reproduced with kind permission from Bedfordshire Archives and Records Service, document BARS AD3195.

[20] TNA E 179/121/331, available online Jan 2019 from FamilySearch FHL film #2228680. Thanks to James Lively for drawing attention to this.

[21] VCHHerts 1908 vol 2 p 300 n 64 citing Westminster Abbey Muniment 14050.

[22] VCH Herts 1908 vol 2 p 300 n 65.

[23] TNA CP25/2/428. For the original Latin contact the Archivist of this website.

[24] TNA CP25/2/430; VCH Herts 1908 vol 2 p 302 n 75.

[25] VCH Herts 1908 vol 2 p 296a—with a picture—citing Westminster Abbey Muniment 14117.

[26] TNA C9/5/18.

[27] Abbreviations: JB = John Brockett, EB = Edmond Brockett, WC = William Cutts, W = Wheathampstead.

[28] Abbreviations—JB: John Brockett, SB: Samuel Baker.

[29] TNA C10/465/40.

[30] TNA C10/24/23.

[31] TNA C10/24/23.

[32] TNA C10/465/40.

[33] TNA C 10/24/23.

[34] TNA C 10/24/23.

[35] Source: Feb 1652 B of C.

[36] Source: TNA CP25/2/430.

[37] Source: Dec 1652 B of C.

[38] Source: Feb 1652 B of C, Dec 1652 B of C.

[39] Source: Feb 1652 B of C.

[40] Source: Feb 1652 B of C.

[41] Source: Feb 1652 B of C.

[42] Source: Feb 1652 B of C.

[43] Source: Feb 1652 B of C.

[44] Source: Dec 1652 B of C.

[45] Source: Feb 1652 B of C.

[46] Source: Dec 1652 B of C.

[47] Source: Feb 1653 P & D.

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